Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Filibustered Congress With a 450-Page Response to Its Questions

Rhett Jones, Gizmodo:

The sheer length of the document and the opacity of Facebook’s responses makes it difficult to say which answers provide the most insight. In all honesty, it seems like you could find most of this information in Facebook’s various terms of service documents. But Facebook is like jazz—the notes it doesn’t play are often the most revealing. It’s high-priced attorneys clearly did a good job of filling in space with their answers, but which Senators decide they are unsatisfied will be the major question in the near future.

As I skimmed the answers Facebook provided, it struck me just how much the company obfuscates its grey area behaviours. Companies behaving in an ethically-sound manner don’t need to be so circuitous or vague in their answers to straightforward questions. Even Facebook, when asked about things it is objectively not doing — like monitoring conversations with a user’s microphone for advertising and data mining purposes — provides direct answers. That they cannot or are unwilling to do so for the vast majority of these questions ought to be deeply troubling.